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Woodlouse

(431 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὄνος/ ónos, πολύπους/ polýplous, ὀνίσκος/ onískos, κούβαρις/ koúbaris, κύαμος/ kýamos, τύλον/ týlon, centi-, mille- (or mili-) and multipedium). The common woodlouse, rough woodlouse or pill bug (mentioned as early as Soph. fr.363 N2) of the Crustacea subphylum, at Aristot. Hist. an. 5,31,557a 24f. (on similarities between fish lice and many-legged ὄνοι/ ónoi), Dioscorides 2,35 [1. 1. 133] (on many-legged ὄνοι which curl up under water containers when disturbed as helpful against e.g. jaundice and as a component of injections aga…

Crow

(565 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In antiquity seven varieties of the crow family (Corvidae) were identified: 1. the common raven (κόραξ/ kórax, Lat. corvus; Corvus corax L.); 2. the carrion crow and hooded crow (κορώνη/ korṓnē, Lat. cornix, cornicula; C. corone L. and C. cornix L.) and probably also the gregarious nester, the rook ( C. frugilegus L.); 3. the  jackdaw (κολοιός/ koloiós, βωμωλόχος/ bōmōlóchos, Lat. monedula or graculus; Coloeus monedula); 4. the  jay (κίσσα/ kíssa, κίττα/ kítta, Lat. pica; Garrulus glandarius); 5. the  magpie ( Pica pica), linguistically not distinguished from n…

Gurnard

(245 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Seven of the probably 15 identified representatives of the family of the Cottidae are of major significance: 1) The armed gurnard (Peristedion cataphractum C.) that growls after being caught is ─ according to Aelianos (NA 13,26), who calls it τέττιξ ἐνάλιος/ téttix enálios (‘Sea Cicada’) ─, darker than the κάραβος/ kárabos, the lobster. The inhabitants of Seriphus are said to have spared it because it was dedicated to Perseus. 2) The flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans L.) is said, as ἱέραξ ὁ θαλάττιος/ hiérax ho thaláttios, Latin accipiter (‘Marine goshawk’), t…

Ants

(453 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (μύρμηξ; mýrmēx; formica, for etymology see Walde/Hofmann). As social insects almost solely observed transporting their food on their tracks (Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),38,622b 24-27; Plin. HN 11,108-110) and otherwise mentioned only rarely (Ael. NA 6,43 [cf. 1.2.417 f.] and passim), but highly regarded because of their supposed abilities and their behaviour, particularly Plut. de sollertia animal. 11 ( terrestriane an aquatilia animalia 967d-968b [cf. 1.2.417 f.]) and in Greek Physiol. cap. 12 ([2.44-50], cf. Byzantine redaktor cap. 27 [2.25…

Fishes

(425 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Aristotle had a knowledge of fish (ἰχθύς; ichthýs, Pl. ἰχθύες; ichthýes), the modern class of vertebrates, as a sub-group of aquatic animals (ἔνυδρα; énydra) that was almost even better than his knowledge of birds, and he provides about 133 names in the Historia animalium. Of these however many sea fish must remain unidentified. He was informed by experienced fishermen whom he questioned, for example, at the rich fish market in Athens. He clearly distinguishes the cartilagenous fish that are phosphorescent in the dark as σελάχη ( seláchē; of σέλας, sélas, ‘light’) [1.…

Louse

(194 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Insect; φθείρ/ phtheír, Latin pediculus, late Latin also tinea (Isid. Orig. 12, 5,11: vestimentorum vermis). Of the supposedly 53 species [1], only three parasites of humans are important. 1. The crab louse, Phirus pubis (L.), (φθείρ ἄγριος/ phtheir ágrios: Aristot. Hist. an. 5,31,557a 4-10; cf. Hdt. 2,37 on the shaving of body hair among the Egyptian priests), which is said to be responsible for φθειρίασις βλεφάρων/ phtheiríasis blephárōn (louse-infestation of the eyelids) (Cels. 6,6,15). 2. The clothes louse, Pediculus humanus, which likes to sit in sheep'…

Bulrush

(101 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ancient term σχοῖνος ( schoînos), Latin iuncus covers today's false grasses of the Juncaceae (especially Juncus) and Cyperaceae ( Schoenus and Scirpus among others) families -- the bulrushes and club-rushes, as well as sedges. In antiquity, bulrushes were commonly used for making mats and, in the case of papyrus Cyperus papyrus ( book,  papyrus), as writing materials. The bulbous root of the Mediterranean species C. esculentus provided edible oil [1. 18]. Sweet-tasting leaves were boiled in beer and eaten (μαλιναθάλλη in Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,8,12; cf. anthaliu…

Jackdaw

(306 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The smallest species of crow. Pliny (HN 10,77) mentions this flocking bird of upper Italy, with its characteristic proverbial predilection for shiny objects like gold and coins, calling it monedula ( Coloeus monedula, probably identical to κολοιός/ koloiós, attested since Hom. Il. 16,583 and 17,755; atypical statements about the bird in Aristotle (Hist. an. 2,12,504a 19; 2,17,509a 1; 9(8),9,614b 5 and 9(8),24,b 16); common in Aristophanes ([1. 155; 2. 2. 109ff.]). In addition, Pliny knows the graculus, probably the Alpine chough ( Pyrrhocorax alpinus, κορακία…

Lily

(318 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The lily, which was already used as a decorative flower in Cretan-Mycenaean art, λείριον/ leírion - from this Latin lilium - or κρίνον/ krínon (Dioscorides; Theophr.) and κρινωνία/ krinōnía (Theophr. Hist. pl. 2,2,1). The adjective λειριόεις/ leirióeis (‘lily-like’ or ‘tender’) is used by Homer Il. 13,830 ironically for the skin of Ajax and 3,152 for the song of the cicadas, as well as Hes. Theog. 41 for that of the Muses. Persephone picks a lily (H. Hom. 2,427). Hdt. 2,92, however, calls the Egyptian Lotus krínon. In Plin. HN 21,22-26 (according to Theophr. 6,6,8…

Shark

(385 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] On this order of cartilaginous fish (σελάχη/ selách ē, σελάχια/ seláchia, χονδράκοντα/ chondrákonta,  cf. Aristot. Hist.an. 1,2, 489b 6;  Ael. NA 11,37) the sources offer no potential for tidy distinctions, only different terms. Aristotle was indeed familiar with the most important species: 1) Barbelled Hound Shark (κύων/ kýōn, γαλεὸς νεβρίας/ galeòs nebrías), 2) Common Smooth-Hound (γαλεὸς λεῖος/ galeòs leîos, Mustelus laevis), 3) Thresher Shark (ἀλωπεκίας/ alōpekías), 4) Cat Shark (σκύλλιον, scyllium), 5) Dogfish Shark (ἀκανθίας), 6) Starry Smooth…

Keiris

(187 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κεῖρις; keîris, Latin ciris) was the name of a water bird [1; 2], nowadays indeterminable, to which the poem Ciris (Ps.-Verg., v. 205 and 501ff.) attributes a white body, blueish wings, a red head and skinny red legs. Scaliger identifies it with a heron who fights the white-tailed eagle ( haliáetos?), according to Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),1,609b 26; but in Hyg. Fab. 198, in analogy thereto, ciris is a fish pursued by the eagle [3. 144]. In mythology, the legend tells the story of Nisus (transformed into a white-tailed eagle) and his daughter S…

Origanon

(117 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὀρίγανον/ oríganon or ὀρείγανον/ oreíganon, also ὁ/ἡ ὀρίγανος/ ho/hē oríganos, Modern Greek ρίγανη, Lat. origanum) referred to a not positively determinable species of the labiate genus origanum or marjoram. Its seed was (and still is today) a popular spice for foods which was also used with the addition of wine in decoction for medical purposes because of its warming and dissolving effects. It served (Dioscorides 3,27 Wellmann = 3,29 Berendes, cf. Plin. HN 20,175) especially as a remedy against poisoning…

Bolbos

(209 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βολβός; bolbós, bulbus). Name of the underground, tuberous roots, like onions and potato tubers, of various plants, especially the Allium varieties (cf. Dioscorides 2,214ff. = 2,178-182 [2. 232-235]) (leek, πράσον), namely Allium cepa (onion, κρόμμυον), Allium scorodoprasum (garlic, σκόροδον) and Allium schoenoprasum (chives, σχοινόπρασον). The magical herb μῶλυ of the Odyssey, the leaves of which Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,15,7 compares to the σκίλλα (squill, Urginea maritima), belongs to the broadleaf Allium varieties, as also the false mandrake ( Allium vict…

Fossatum

(84 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The Cod. Theod. 7,15,1 mentions a ditch with a width of 4-10 m which, through aerial photographs, has been shown to be part of the African Limes secured by fortresses. Today it can best be seen near El-Kantara (Island of Djerba, Tunisia) and Gemellae (Batna, Algeria). It served not just military purposes but also to separate the cultivated land from the desert. Dating varies between Hadrian and the Four Emperors (2nd-3rd cents. AD). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography J. Baradez, Fossatum Africae, 1949.

Crocodile

(641 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] 1) Nile crocodile; Crocodilus niloticus Cuv.; first described by Hdt. 2,68 (κροκόδειλος, Egyptian also chámpsas); crocodilus, Isid. Orig. 12,6,19; Egyptian msḥ. It is about 8 m long (more than 11 m according to Ael. NA. 17,6), it has a rather short tongue (Aristot. Part. an. 2,17,660b 27-29; Plut. De Is. et Os. 75). Lifting the skull together with the immobile upper jaw in the apparent resting position gave the impression that only the upper jaw is mobile (Plin. HN 8,89; 11,159; cf. Hdt. 2,68; Aristo…

Heron

(603 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἐρῳδιός/ erōidiós, in MSS frequently ἐρωδιός/ erōdiós, also ἀρωδιός/ arōdiós, ῥωδιός/ rhōdiós, ἐρωγάς/ erōgás, ἐδωλιός/ edōliós; Latin ardea and ardeola) of the Ardeidae family with several species of birds. Interpretation of the erōdión (Hom. Il. 10,274) that flew past Odysseus at night as a heron is disputed today (in spite of Ael. NA 10,37). The following species are identifiable [1. 38 f.]: 1) the grey heron ( Ardea cinerea): ὁ πέλλος ἐρῳδιός/ ho péllos erōidiós (Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),1,609b 22-25 and 8(9), 18,616b 33-617a 1 = Plin. HN 10,164: pelion); 2.) th…

Perch

(351 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] [1] Sea bass Edible fish (λάβραξ/ lábrax, lupus marinus). An important edible fish, the ones from the coast of Miletus (cf. Ath. 7,311 cd) and from the Tiber near Rome were valued especially in antiquity (Hor. Sat. 2,2,31; Plin. HN 9,169; Columella 8,16,4). Aristotle mentions it several times, among others, Hist. an. 5,10,543a3f.; 543b4 or 5,11,543b11 as a fish that spawns twice in the winter (= Plin. HN 9,162) at the mouths of rivers. A more exact description is only found in Ath. 7,310e…

Mistletoe

(312 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἰξία/ ixía and ἰξός/ ixós, also the name for birdlime made from mistletoe berries, and στελίς/ stelís and ὑφέαρ/ hyphéar in Greek dialects, Latin viscus or viscum). Of the two genuses in the family Loranthaceae, Theophrastus (H. plant. 3,7,6 and 3,16,19) knows as ixía only the true oak mistletoe, which is green in summer, or yellow-berried mistletoe ( Loranthus europaeus L.). As hyphéar he distinguishes from them the evergreen white or Nordic mistletoe ( Viscum album L.) with white berries, which grows parasitically primarily on apple trees and conifers …

Botany

(2,434 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) [German version] A. Introduction (CT) The term was introduced as early as 1663 by Schorer as Botanic oder Kräuterwissenschaft (botany or herbal science), following botanik-́e (sc. epist-́emē) and Neo-Latin botanica (sc. scientia) [32] and is encountered in the limited sense of a plant system in 1694 in the title of the Elemens de Botanique by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. Only in the 19th cent. did botany gain the comprehensive meaning of all scientific disciplines involving plants [29]. Before this, botany can only be spoken of in a very limited way. Hüne…

Vulture

(587 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (γύψ/ gýps; Lat. voltur or vultur, voltur[i]us, derived from vellere, to pluck, or of Etruscan origin). Aristotle knows only the small, light-coloured Egyptian vulture ( Neophron percnopterus), as well as the significantly larger and ash-gray monk vulture (Aegypius monachus) (Hist. an. 7(8),3,592b 6-8). In his writings, however, Αἰγυπιός ( aigypiós) refers to the lammergeier or bearded vulture (Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),1,610a 1), which is related both to the eagle and to the vulture (Ail. nat. 2,46). The perknópteros (Hist. an. 8(9),32,618b 31-619a 3) with …
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